Monday, January 17, 2011

He Saved Us

Imagine being the overseer of the Church in Crete during Titus’ time (c. AD 66).  The Cretans had a reputation for being lazy and somewhat corrupt (Titus 1:12). These traits apparently characterized some of the faithful as well as the false teachers (3:14). Part of Paul’s charge to Titus was to motivate them to change. This could be the church that inspired the saying “Ministry would be great if it wasn’t for the people!”


The dominant theme in Paul’s letter to Titus is change and good works brought by the wonder of salvation.  The remembrance of our own past should be a powerful motive for gentleness and consideration toward others when urging them to change. After all, what was our former state is still true of someone else; we are all on different journeys of transformation. Paul writes:

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” (Titus 3:3-8 NIV)

I love testimonies of the transformation that salvation brings, especially those which reflect the kind of changes Paul speaks of here. Let me share John Wesley’s account of his famous Aldersgate experience from his journals to illustrate the marvellous change Christ brings:

“In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death… After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations, but I cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and He “sent me help from his holy place.” And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.”